There is a Weird Al song from 1996 called "Everything You Know Is Wrong" that pretty well sums up all of the predictions about the iPhone 5: Every rumor about the iPhone 5--every design leak, every release rumor, every breathless Wall Street note to investors about new form factors and tech specs and thinner, lighter profiles--all of it was wrong.
Nobody knew, but everyone cared. And now that the new iPhone 4S has been announced, the biggest question seems to be not "Will Apple be able to make enough of these things to get me one in time for Christmas?" but rather "So when is Apple going to announce the iPhone 5?"
Consumers looking to upgrade their iPhones from the 3G or 3GS to a newer model, or users of other smartphones who were waiting for the iPhone 5 to switch over to Apple, are asking themselves: Should I bite the bullet with this iPhone 4S thing, or is it worth waiting for the iPhone 5?
And so it is with hesitation that we report the iPhone 5 rumors have begun (again). Following the disappointment of analysts, Tweeters and case-makers alike at the appearance of only the iPhone 4S, the tech punditry class has started up the iPhone 5 prognostication.
CNET, for starters, interviewed the president of Forward Concepts, a wireless chip market research firm, who said that Apple was "saving iPhone 5 for the LTE version [which] won't be coming out until next spring." Anand Shimpi, of respected tech site AnandTech, meanwhile, gives a technical analysis of why Apple may have held off on a thinner device and concludes that buyers should "check back in Q2/Q3 2012" for the iPhone 5, which he also believes will be a 4G LTE device.
The reality is that the iPhone 5 is coming at some point in the future, but no one knows for sure when it is coming. Traditionally, Apple has launched its new iPhones in June; this was the first year ever that Apple did not. (iPhone: June 2007; iPhone 3G: June 2008; iPhone 3GS: June 2009; iPhone 4: June 2010; iPhone 4S: October 2011). It might very well be that Apple gets back onto the June release track next summer; or, it might be that they don't release a new iPhone until 2013. Again, everyone cares, but nobody knows.
So what to do until then? Well, from covering the week in Apple rumors every Sunday for the past few months, it seems fairly clear who has the most reliable sources at Apple: The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and John Paczkowski of the Wall Street Journal's tech blog All Things Digital. The others? Well, you can check Gawker's fascinating iPhone 5 "failboard" for the tech sites that missed out or mis-prognosticated, which doesn't even mention the investment banks like JP Morgan, Wedbush and Deutsche Bank that incorrectly advised investors that two new iPhones, including an iPhone 5, would be released in the autumn.
You can also feel free to create your own ridiculous iPhone 5 rumors using the (still valid!) template I created during the run-up to the Apple media event. Your totally fictional, unsubstantiated fabrication could prove just as valid as many of this summer's predictions.
Apple has proven that they run a very tight ship, and that accurate leaks and information are incredibly hard to come by. So until Tim Cook or an Apple spokesperson actually announces another "Let's Talk iPhone" event: Hold tight. The new iPhone comes out on October 14, and it is called the iPhone 4S. Get used to it.
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